George Nickson and Samantha Bennett Co-Artistic Directors

George Nickson and Samantha Bennett
Co-Artistic Directors


Human, Inclusive, Excellence, Inspiring, and Current

ensembleNEWSRQ strives to manifest the creativity of the current generation and inspire audiences to participate in musical culture in a profound way, through high-level curated concert experiences that sustain and transform the relevance of contemporary classical music.


Artistic Directors


Samantha Bennett


Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as a violinist “full of subtlety and poise”, Samantha Bennett is an active and varied performer around the globe. In 2016 Ms. Bennett joined the Sarasota Orchestra as Principal Second Violin. Prior to this position, she was a tenured violinist in The Florida Orchestra. She performs regularly with Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops and has been Guest Concertmaster of the New Haven Symphony. A fierce advocate of new music, she has premiered works by Gunther Schuller, Toshio Hosokawa, Oliver Knussen, John Cage, George Benjamin, Augusta Read Thomas, and Philip Glass. As Concertmaster of the New Haven Symphony, Ms. Bennett recorded works for “Portrait of Augusta Read Thomas” (Nimbus Records), including the World Premiere recording of Augusta Read Thomas’ saxophone concerto Hemke Concerto “Prisms of Light”. She has participated in the Lucerne Festival Academy, Spoleto Festival USA, the Music Academy of the West, and the Tanglewood Music Festival, where she performed for three seasons with the New Fromm Players, a group that specializes in contemporary music performance. At Tanglewood, she premiered Einojuhani Rautavaara's 'Lost Landscapes' for solo violin and orchestra. In addition, the Fromm Players performed as Ensemble-In-Residence at composer Bright Sheng's festival Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong in 2015. Born in Ames, Iowa, Ms. Bennett completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at the New England Conservatory in Boston studying with Donald Weilerstein and Malcolm Lowe.

George Nickson 


A percussionist and conductor of great versatility and virtuosity, George Nickson has been hailed by The New York Times as “a performer handling his role with ease and flair.” In September 2019, George will begin his tenure as Principal Percussionist of The Dallas Symphony Orchestra. George was appointed Principal Percussionist of the Sarasota Orchestra in April, 2012. He has received the Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School where he studied with Daniel Druckman and completed his undergraduate studies at the New England Conservatory with Will Hudgins. In addition to his position with the Sarasota Orchestra, George has had the privilege of performing with the orchestras of Boston, Detroit, Washington D.C., Toronto, Honolulu, and San Francisco. Recent highlights include a marimba concerto performance at Tanglewood, solo performances at The Spoleto Festival, and solo recording projects that can be heard on NAXOS, Bridge, and Albany Records. George has appeared as conductor in many notable performances of ensembleNEWSRQ, including numerous world premieres, U.S. Premieres and Florida Premieres, such as Charles Wuorinen’s New York Notes, Le Marteau sans maître of Pierre Boulez, Tansy Davies’ saltbox, and Sofia Gubaidulina’s Lyre of Orpheus.

Artistic Leadership

Samantha Bennett, artistic director
George Nickson, artistic director


George Nickson, chair
Samantha Bennett, vice-chair
Justin Vibbard, secretary
Ted Beilman, treasurer

Directors (as of June 1, 2019)

Ted Beilman
Samantha Bennett*
Brian J. Boyd 
Linda Z. Buxbaum 
Eric Dean
Jody B. Gabel 
Pat Michelsen
Joan Golub
George Nickson*
Arthur Levin
Joe Seidensticker 
Justin Vibbard 

*Founding Board Member